Leaving Certificate Holidays
The summer I finished my leaving certificate I did a parachute jump for charity, broke my first bone (whilst doing said parachute jump), worked my first full-time job and went on my first holiday abroad with my friends without parents. Of all these new experiences, I remember my holiday in Majorca with the girls most fondly.
Not to say jumping out of a tin plane, crash landing into a tree, then an electric fence and finally being dragged through a field was not fun, but the broken ankle and six week stretch on crutches was not a summer highlight.
At the time, Santa Ponsa, Majorca was the place to go and everyone we knew was heading there on a one or two week jaunt after our exams. I failed to see the point in going to the same place as the people we saw every weekend, so as the organizing fell to me, I investigated other options. Admittedly, I did not stray too far from the crowd, but it was the first time I’d booked a holiday abroad for myself, let alone twelve friends. I was taking minimum risks.
It was my friendly, local travel agent that suggested a compromise. We go to Majorca, but stay on another part of the island. Not too far from the ‘hot spot’ that was Santa Ponsa, but far enough that we didn’t have to see half of Dublin every day.
This is how we ended up in lovely apartments in a spanking new hotel in a quiet, but pretty family resort called Palma Nova. We cooked our dinners each evening, walked to the local bars for happy hour and danced till all hours in BCM. The fact we were staying near the largest nightclub on the island was a happy accident.
By day we lay by the pool, bronzing our pasty bodies, the girls dipping me into the water, head first, careful not to wet the cast on my leg. Ah, the memories!
You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that Magaluf, Majorca, (the neighbouring resort to Palma Nova) is one of this year’s hot spots. I congratulated myself at being ahead of the times. Perhaps, a little too ahead, you may say.
Leaving cert students continue to gravitate to ‘en vogue’ destinations, with music being a major determining factor as to where these destinations are. Popular DJs and bands are flown in to play in local clubs and the pricey entrance fees don’t seem to deter the young tourists, with places like Ibiza Rocks cramming up to 4,000 at their concerts.
Of course, these young travellers will seek out bargains, scouring the internet for cheap package deals with low deposits, installment payments and group discounts.
Travel agents have clearly identified this group as a lucrative market, with dedicated sections on their websites, offering reasonable packages to the popular destinations. Even websites have been set up, such as www.leavingcertholidays.com listing top destinations, special offers and general travel tips.
This morning on Ireland AM, TV3 I talked about where people are going this summer after their exams and offered some advice on booking, payment, choosing where to go and how to get there. The information is below or to view the slot click here
Package deals can be less adventurous than independent travelling, as you are tied to the same location for the duration of your stay, but it is often the cheapest and least complicated option if there are large numbers travelling together. Shop around as many agents do group deals, where one in ten people go free.
Some travel agents will offer a discount for those who pay for their holidays well in advance. For example Concorde Travel offer up to €50 discount for those who book and pay by end of February for some of their selected holidays.
Many of the travel agents will let you make the booking with a low deposit of €50 – €75 and then pay in installments with a final payment 8 – 10 weeks before travelling.
Insurance is essential when travelling, whether you are put on your parents insurance or have your own multi-trip policy.
Hotels can work out expensive as you have to eat out for most of your meals, unless it is on a full or half board basis. However, if you have over 4 people in your group it is more economical and fun to book self-catering accommodation. This enables you to have your meals and a few drinks in the apartment, keeping costs down considerably.
Leaving cert students tend to be looking for somewhere with guaranteed sunshine, cheap food and drink and a lively nightlife. There are plenty of places in Crete, Tenerife and Spain that fit this bill, but every year there are particular ‘hot spots’. This year, Ibiza, Ayia Napa and Mallorca are ranking high in the list, with young holidaymakers gravitating towards the lure of pool parties and live music by headlining acts.
When to Go
Many of the charter flights to the popular destinations are nearly full for the week of the 23rd June and the following week is also very busy. This means prices tend to be higher than if you were to travel in August or September. September is often a good time to travel, as prices are lower and it’s not so hot.
Ibiza has long being known as a party island, with famous DJs and rockstars being snapped by papparazi lounging on deck chairs, cocktail in hand. San Antonio is the second largest town on the island and is famous for its Sunset strip, lined with bars, clubs and restaurants, the most famous of which is the trendy Cafe Del Mar.
During the day there’s plenty to keep you occupied, the island is fringed with beautiful beaches, boats chug around the coastline on day trips and the sun is relatively reliable. By night, San Antonio comes alive with lights and music, boasting one of Europe’s best party scenes. In recent years the town has become popular with the younger crowd, many coming to party at Ibiza Rocks, famous for live DJs, pool parties and weekly concerts with major headlining bands. They have now opened a hostel providing cheap accommodation.
Getting There Fly direct to Ibiza
Special Offers From €435 per person (flights, transfers and 7 nights accommodation) with Budget Travel
From €425 per person (flights, transfers and 7 nights accommodation) www.Skytours.ie
Located on the popular family resort island Mallorca, Magaluf is popular for its nightlife, which is centred around the strip known as Punta Ballena. The crowded bars pump out music till all hours of the morning, but most will head to the nearby BCM, the island’s largest nightclub famous for its foam parties.
Mallorca Rocks is the sister to Ibiza Rocks and the hotel has weekly music nights throughout the summer, with bands like Tinie Tempa and Dizzie Rascal playing which in itself has made the town become a popular destination with the younger crowds. As with Ibiza Rocks, they have a hotel offering a range of accommodation.
The beach in Magaluf is nice with watersports available to keep you entertained during the day, alternatively head to the beach in the neighbouring resort Palma Nova, which can be a little quieter.
Getting There Fly direct to Palma, Majorca
Falcon Holidays – Magaluf, Majorca, 7 nights based on 4 sharing from €499pp (30 June)
Located in the east of Cyprus, Ayia Napa is famous for its long, sandy beaches and crystal waters. Once a quaint fishing village, it has become a more cosmopolitan town, with good shopping, and plenty of bars and restaurant. It has in more recent years, become famous amongst younger holiday-makers for its music scene, rising to one of the ‘party capitals’ alongside Ibiza.
It is a great place for watersports with scuba diving, speed boating, windsurfing and canoeing all readily available. A must visit is to Cape Greco where you can swim in caves and also do some cliff jumping (with care). There is also Europe’s largest waterpark there, Ayia Napa Waterworld. For a beautiful beach, visit Victory Bay, not far from Ayia Napa.
Getting There Fly via London/Manchester
Concorde Travel from €674 (flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation)
Falcon Holidays from €499pp (flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation) (August)